Library Submission: Tilverton: The Vacant Vale



  • @Puffy


    Head Librarian,

    I’ve been working on this one for a bit on and off hence the delay in submission. Truthfully, I had hoped to submit it after we broke the curse over Tilverton, but I suppose an ‘in progress’ history report is better than none at all.

    Be well, and thank you for what you do.

    Sincerely,

    Mistral Ophirae Miavyre


    Tilverton: The Vacant Vale

    by

    Mistral Ophirae Miavyre


    Contents:

    1. Early Tilverton (the ideal)
    2. Modern Tilverton (the reality)
    3. The Anabatic
    4. The Rising of the Eastern Wind
    5. The Future of Tilverton

    ~Dedication~
    To both Isabella Rallyhorn and her identically named niece.
    A war wizard’s duty is never finished, but rest assured we will free you from Tilverton.

    To Aelynthi Miavyre
    For being the mother she was and the inspiration for what I would never let myself become.
    (You may have half-assed a bad idea but I whole assed a good one.)

    Prologue

    My arrival to Tilverton was a largely unremarkable occurrence, I had been treading the halo of cracked earth surrounding the volcano in retreat from the sweltering punishment of Kossuth’s shrine. My second compendium on the local wayshrines had been mostly finished but for the Firelord’s and I had been looking forward to making a quick escape through the village cloaked in shadow.

    I had heard about this place during the first Shade war, about some attempts to broker a ceasefire that had gone catastrophically wrong resulting in the town’s destruction. But this. . .

    No wind stirred, echos of tormented spirits lurched from the shadowy substance of the village around me, and beings at the furthest edge of my consciousness stalked along the edge of my vision. The air was cold and vacuous, still like a sealed room, stagnant and drowned of smells by the crushing pressure of a sunless sky.

    Fragments of a village could be seen at the periphery of these shadows. Stone and plaster fingers reaching for the radiance of the Azure beyond the veil. But like the spirits trapped with them, their reach exceeded their grasp.

    It was in this hell that inspiration and fear took hold in equal parts; in seeking a way to serve my patron and to grow Her faith, the breaking of a twenty year curse and blight upon Cormyr would be a worthy endeavor for all concerned.

    With a final gasp of the oppressive air around me, I started up the ladder that would lead me back to the Moonsea Ride, a purpose defined and hope kindled in the depth of my soul.

    Two simple words came to mind: “What if?”


    Early Tilverton


    My first introduction to Tilverton had been as part of a layover with a group of mercenaries and irregulars bound for the Desertsmouth Mountains to support the war effort during the first Shade War. Our stay wasn’t long, enough to drop off a few sundries for the village and pick up water for the animals, however what struck me immediately was the gentle rolling hills and friendly peoples.

    Though the memories are faded by the ravages of time and too many battles, I remember how the jade grass bent under the weight of so many boot prints. The clamor of the gondite temple cranking out weapons and the various priests chanting into the manure and coal tinged air. It was right before the rain started that I disembarked from the caravan to help load it.

    Even during a time of war and with so many soldiers and mercenaries coming and going, the people were welcoming and had nothing to give but their best and their all for their fellow Cormyrian. Even I, Waterdavian by birth, found friendly smiles and tokens of luck and thanks offered for what was to come.

    Had I known what the front would be like, I probably would have accepted those tokens.


    Rowanmantle Family


    Within this village stood a proud estate shrouded by the gold and green of House Rowanmantle, tended by servants while the Lady Regent Alasalynn and majority of Family Rowanmantle conducted business for the war effort in Suzail.

    A strong political and military house, and closely aligned with House Hawklin, I feel history will be kind to the house and their ancestral lands in the fullness of time, but fate would have them strangely absent from much of Arabel for the twenty years after the war. Likely due to politics and the circumstances in which the village was waylaid.

    Eventually one of the family would return, a grandchild of the Lady Regent by the name of Duane Rowanmantle. Holding the hope of Lathander in his heart to bring light once more to the darkness, he sought to reclaim the lands in the name of his family and to claim a birthright for Cormyr and for the house.

    Little is known of the discussions between him and the matron of the house, save that he loved her dearly and wished to bring his family back into prominence in Arabel. This task set before him was monumental and the odds so heavily stacked against him that no sane person would expect success.

    None the less, he drew the line in the sand.


    Modern Tilverton


    Prior to the detonate of the (unknown) weapon that plunged it into darkness, the village served as a staging ground for Cormyrian troops and War Wizards, and as a neutral ground for a meeting between the War Wizards and the delegate from the Empire of Thultanthar (Shade). This is where the events that left it as it is now played out.

    Needless to say, I was not present for this personally. It was only after the cessation of hostilities was declared that I learned about it. Yet from compiled reports and second-third-fourth hand accounts, I’ve compiled a loose set of events:

    The War Wizards had brought a weapon to the village they had prepared to use against the Shadovar before a delegation from the empire came to negotiate. At some point it’s believed that the Shadovar brought in their own weapon using their own (different) magic system.

    Negotiations broke down and someone, it’s not clear who, attacked the other party. In the ensuing fight, one or both of the weapons was detonated and the conflagration of Shade and traditional arcane magic tore a hole from the Prime Material plane (that’s the plane you spend the majority of your time in!) into the plane of Shadow (a transitory plane) the breaking and fuzzing of the barriers between these planes is what gives rise to the Shadows and undead that still roam there, trapped and bound to the poisoned soil.

    In very simple terms, the boundaries between the Prime and the Shadow planes are fuzzy and loose in Tilverton. They ‘bleed’ into one another, yet planes are mutable things, and the plane of Shadow is known as a transitory plane-- meaning that, like the Ethereal, the plane is meant for travel. You could liken this to a stream. The stream will adapt itself against hard surfaces (like the boundaries around the Prime Material plane). However, it also seeps negative energy into the ground and over time will poison anything and anyone in there for too long.

    From an academic point of view, negative energy has suffused the ground there such that there will never be rest for the people that are trapped there; they will never die and pass on. The presence of negative energy has left them in an endless cycle of being destroyed and reforming because of the powerful negative energy that sits in the place. Think of it like drowning over and over again in liquid air, unable to reach the surface, unable to truly die. That is the closest analogy I can draw.

    Consequently, faithful of the Dark Sister are drawn to Tilverton to pay homage, to torture and kill and to enact profane rituals to their dark goddess. A practice that continues right up to the penning of this tome.


    Notable Locations Post Eastern Wind



    Tilverwood Approach (Revealed by the Eastern Wind):



    Tilverton Proper (Changed by the Eastern Wind):



    Tilverton Exodus (Revealed by the Eastern Wind):



    Tilverwood Approach Locations:


    Farming Lands

    The remnants of old farms, undead and wildlife can often be found mingling around them fighting one another. These buildings are utterly ruined but the undead seem to wander nearby, perhaps reliving their lives. . .


    Tilverton Exodus Locations:


    Very rolling hills, plenty of open space. Prone to earthquakes.

    Farming Lands

    Same as before.

    Statue

    Unknown statue with a corpse speared in front of it. Presumably something to do with the ancestral owners of the land?


    Tilverton Locations:


    Shrine

    Situated on the Moonsea Ride, tucked behind a stone cliff face, this thing has some prayers to the Dark Sister and other paraphernalia along side bodies. It exudes a purple light and has a faintly holy (if disturbing) aura to it.

    Forest Path Approach

    The path from the outlying forest to the village itself.

    Tilverton Exodous

    This road opens out to the woods, eventually leading to the volcano.

    Shrine of Hope and Love

    Little more than a ruin and a plaque now, but I have personally witnessed rituals undertaken on this site meet with success from Sunites and ome Lathandrite. Of note, there is a ‘safe magic’ area very nearby, behind the copse of trees.

    Adventuring Guild

    Little more than a ruin now, but the terrain favors some quick defense if you need to put distance between yourself and pursuers.

    ‘Same Magic’ locations.

    These locations marked in blue seem to be areas where magic works more reliably than other places in the region. I am reasonably confident this is an anomaly that may relate to my theory regarding the disparity between the two planes.

    Rowanmantle Estate

    The remains of the estate in which the negotiations between Shade and War Wizards is believed to have been held. It has sustained the most damage and exists now as little more than a skeletal framework with the House seal upon its rotting vissage.

    Ritual Site

    This site sees regular use by cultists- the equipment is cleaned (where it’s not caked with blood) to ensure its functionality.

    Altar of Shar

    Is exactly what you’d expect it to be.


    The Anabotic


    I came to know Tilverton’s true horror by gazing upon it with my own eyes-- by attempting to breathe the vacuous air and roaming among the shadows to learn the land. It was never intended that I’d start a mission to free the souls trapped there, but rather to see the winds of Akadi blow through the land once more.

    The simple truth of the matter was inspiration; a single moment of discovery, a whisper gliding across my ear from within the bowels of the gloom. “Help me.”

    My body shuddered, my very soul wrenched itself by reflex and I turned to see a loose form prowling between the trees. It was a familiar gait, the stride of an old friend wandering back into the forest. I almost followed.

    I almost gave into that temptation, but as I neared the wood line, I saw a river of souls extruded from the shadow- hands grasping greedily for my life force. Some clawed for help, some for rage, some to drink what made me alive to make it theirs. . .

    The original purpose had been to finish my second book(1), but after breathing in the horror of this place, I had a choice to make; to stand idle, to bring Akadi’s winds back or to perform the greatest act a faithful of any deity of freedom could: to free those trapped there.

    Not being a cleric (at the time), I had little idea what hope I could have to affect the change that’d be required, but after some careful research on the subject of what transpired during the war, how planes interacted and plenty of spirited debates with druids, clerics and wizards alike, I came to develop my theory of the plane of Shadow spilling into Tilverton instead of the whole place having been ripped out of the Prime.

    From this theory, I developed the idea of re-enforcing the natural powers of the Prime Material. The idea behind this course would re-enforce the boundaries between the Prime and Shadow. It may or may not solve the other issues, but at the very least it may help break up the darkness and allow healing to begin.

    My background is one that lends itself to a variety of skills, but seldom enough to fully master any one of them-- being half-sun-elf, I’m given to a great deal of introspection and desire to master what I set myself out to learn about. This helped greatly in approaching the situation analytically and I suspect lead to a great many issues along the way.

    None the less, my line was drawn in the sand, and my goal set. Little did I realize what I was setting my hand to, but I knew it had to be done. Freedom wasn’t just a promise of Akadi, but the natural state that all beings are meant to exist in; while She is not one to crusade, this was a prison that defied Her and all other gods by its very existence.

    It needed to change. For those trapped there, for Cormyr and for the gods themselves. . .

    1. The book in question is titled ‘Upon the Eastern Winds; Volume 2’, a travelogue of eastern locations and wayshrines in the Arabel region.

    The Rising of the Eastern Wind


    A month or so after I set my hand to this monumental task, adventurers had rallied to fight shadows only to lose interest when it wasn’t a big bad evil monster that they could waggle their steel at. Again and again, they came and went. Patience and frustration warred within me right up to the point where I met Duane Rowanmantle.

    During an expedition into Tilverton, we met the young man on the narrow tangle of forest surrounding the village. He was firm and resolute, working to get a first hand look at his birthright and confused by the number of adventurers that were intruding upon it. He hadn’t seen the shadows spilling out of the Tilverscar, but he soon learned when the undead there attacked us.

    It would be the first of many such interactions, both of us trying to figure out where we stood with each other and how- or even if- we could be copesthetic. Neither of us wanted to give up our work or claim on the future of the land.

    Frustrating by leagues, we still found ways to work together and by applying Akadi’s teachings of patience, I showed him just how valuable the Queen of Air is in the lives of mortals. In time we found a way to make things work with mutual respect and cohesion. Plans were laid an enacted to chip away at the curse to little effect; the Heir was often occupied with political work and bogged down in the nuance of the affair of protecting his title and house.

    During this time, my own frustrations and bogging down began to occur as my plan to create an alchemical portal to channel Akadi’s winds directly from the Plane of Air hit one snag after another- including the corruption of reagents I was working on by Sharran agents.

    Yet we often found chances to go on patrols and while I would not call them ‘fun’ by any stretch, they were the one shared vision we could work on together and put aside everything else. In this place of haunted horror, we could block out the world for a while to concentrate on the greater evils of the world

    Perhaps it says more about my character than I would like it to.

    Upon one of our patrols we ran into a young man praying before the altar in the village. When confronted, he admitted to being a Sharran- saying he believed Selune and Shar to be two sides of the same goddess.

    Duane ran him through before he could even finish explaining. Then things go interesting. In the only way interesting can apply to a stygian pit of despair and suffering:

    The corpse slumped down against the altar as Duane withdrew his spear and almost immediately began convulsing, shuddering and breaking apart as his organs began tearing themselves from his corpses through new holes in his flesh; the veins of this damned soul then began to crawl up the altar like vines, burning and sizzling against it as his goddess rejected him.

    Fearful things would get worse, I produced one of my Umberlee’s tears from my pocket to use as a focus- calling down the wrath of Akadi to smite the profane altar through lightning and storm. Lightning struck the altar. The ground. Air buffeted us all- throwing some to their backs, bending the dead trees and smashing down pillars of cyclonic power against the tattered remains of the Sharran.

    Rain started pelting us-- the first winds and rain that Tilverton had seen in twenty years. This should’ve been cause for elation! Something was wrong, though. Deeply wrong.

    The wind didn’t stir the stillness, it didn’t break up the stale taste. Lightning left no trail of ozone to be had. The natural power of the storm couldn’t take hold because of the powerful link to the plane of Shadow. Our ‘ritual’ was turning into a disaster by the second.

    Rain turned from a downpour to a monsoon as water came flooding down the Scar and sopped into Tilverton’s grounds. Earth turned to mud and soon, as we scrambled to climb out we saw the danger to what we had wrought; the Tilverscar was flooded, the east way was erroding and darkness cloaked the entire eastern region.

    During the run to try to ensure the safety of civilians I learned that cows could explode from direct lightning strikes. This was seconds before I was showered in gore.

    Wild magic is, at its best, an apparent phenomena that can warp any magic. I suspect when a deity has Her attention and a vested interest in an outcome in something categorically Her domain, it can be warped to affect any result desired. That, I believe, is what happened here.


    The Storm


    This horrific result threw us into a panic as we tried to placate what we initially believed to be Akadi’s storm. We organized rituals, we sought appeasement of the Primal goddess but nothing worked initially. It was around this time we came to the conclusion that Akadi and Shar must have been battling it out-- I say this with no small amount of curiosity and wonder, but having seen the powerful storm set upon the region I cannot imagine either power surrendering their claims willingly or easily.

    A lay follower of Talos by the name of Bjorn had also taken an interest in the storm, thinking it the work of his god. While I have nothing against him wanting to spread his god’s worship, this simply is not the case here I don’t believe. None the less, he and the sharran agent performed ritual battle with sacrifices provided by both parties. I refused to participate and urged Bjorn to do likewise for fear that the sharran’s involvement would spread the darkness. It is believed that he had a hand in corrupting the reagents for our portal, and seeing this new effort to spread the Dark Sister’s influence kept me skeptical.

    None the less, Bjorn and our shared goals were obvious; stop the storm before more damage was done. Even if our methods were vastly different, I like to think that the combination of powers had a big hand in breaking the darkness.


    The Djinn


    However, neither of us expected the intervention of a storm Djinn-- a bolt of pure azure lightning erupted from the skies over Tilverton, finding us in the Spire where it shattered the wards there and erupted into an individual swathed in beautiful lightning. He announced himself as Holarandel and said he was doing someone a favor. A True Wish.

    Unable to leave the region until the curse is broken, he offered Bjorn and I a deal: we would be asked to collect as many signatures as we could within two weeks and whichever one of us had more signatures would be granted their Wish. We could even offer people minor wishes for their own signature.

    However, as I soon learned through my questioning; there was a catch.

    They were signing over their souls to this extra planar entity. Through questioning and ‘negotiation’ by all three parties, the Djinn offered to set the souls free to the deity who’s representative gathered the most signatures after a period of ten thousand years.

    A True Wish and as many souls to my goddess as I could get to sign over. I will not say I wasn’t the least bit tempted. My life has been one of wishing to provide the most exemplary service I can when I set my mind to something or give my word to someone. . .

    But this was wrong. This violated the principles of a free mind and free- informed- choice that Akadi demanded of the faithful. This was not the Akadian way. Thus, I refused and the Djinn went looking for someone else. I believe he’s still up there, somewhere.


    The Akadian approach took the form of a race all over the Arabellion region to recover pieces of a poem and assemble them to be spoken upon Akadi’s winds and empower the goddess as well as teach people about the region and get them to experience travel in a new way.

    A poster is included for the sake of completeness.

    After the performing of the Lightning Race, the rain did finally stop, yet the darkness remained overhead. Our time was limited, the damage had already been done to the lands with the rains and soon the harvest would be upon us.

    We knew Sharrans were working in the region, we worked hard to keep our work from being corrupted or turned further to unintentional outcomes by securing rights from Lord Metroi and Heir Rowanmantle to perform rituals upon their lands to abade the storm and empower Akadi to take the battle.

    A letter is enclosed

    Over the course of the week, many things happened that kept dragging people away from the project. Fights, squabbles, pirates and Sharran antics abounded, yet we pushed on it with the help of our allies. Benjamin Barkley, a paladin of Shaundakul, and Royal Scout Daxx of the Waterlord Istishia had pulled together an idea for creating a ritual the likes of which hadn’t been performed so far as we can find.

    During this time we sacrificed several White Stags upon the future ritual site, however by combining rare mud from far reaching trails, water elements such as rare ice from the stormhorns, pearls from the Wyvernwater, lakeleaf fonds from the swamps and the purest water that could be alchemically created, sacred censors of Akadi, we would invoke the water present in the clouds, the Azure skies of Akadi and the freedom of the open road in order to break the gloom.

    We had initially wanted to frame this as a race.

    Another poster is included

    However the day of the ritual, it was decided to perform it as a more traditional affair due to the low turn out.

    I don’t think any of us expected what happened next.


    The Roaring Eastern Wind


    The ritual was simple in concept; by combining these desperate but natural elements, we sought to move the clouds over the East Way so that the village would be safe to conduct its harvest and we could fulfill our promise to break it.

    Akadi’s is often regarded as a flighty and inconsequential faith; this was a chance to change that and to show Cormyr that Her and Her faithful look after their mistakes and benefit the region as a whole. However, this victory would not solely be Hers. No great work is the sole purview of one person acting alone and this is no exception-- without Daxx and Barkley, none of this would’ve happened.

    On the day the ritual was to be performed, we had precious little turnout for our race, and so it was decided to perform the ritual impromptu on the spot. As we began, the darkness swelled around us, mist and cold lapping at us like the hounds of the Abyss leaving only a small halo of tenuous safety in which we held court. From the shadows extruded several forms and legions of bats that assaulted us throughout.

    With each successive reagent and prayer that was affected the shadows broke more and more. The Shadows fought back, nearly killing some petitioners in their furious strikes. But the more that gave, the more our spirits were lifted, Air Elementals even came to our aid and danced their silent prayers through our works.

    Our successes mounted quickly with the help of those who prayed with us- Duane Rowanmantle, Calder Daxx, Victoria Coltsbury, Simon, Colette Willowford and Christoph Ampharen, we soon saw the shadows break.

    A vicious cry tore through the East Way, rupturing the skies overhead as spears of sunlight finally pierced the darkness, trailing a setting sun. Fresh winds and whipping rain chased the darkness back from the East Way as shadows howled back into Tilverton.

    But they would find no shelter there; Akadi’s furious vengeance swept through the darkness and blew through the shadows, ripping them away like tissue paper before her righteous fury. The shadows retreated further and further back into the tear between planes; blown and shattered, gone from this plane once more.

    This is known within the church as the Roaring of the Eastern Wind, and stands to date as one of the faiths biggest accomplishments within Arabel.

    Upon seeing this miracle Duane converted to venerating Akadi, and while he eventually took off to find his own fortune (as She would ask of him to do), his prayers were no less instrumental to seeing the darkness driven off.

    Shadow still hangs over Tilverton like an axehead, but Akadi’s winds blow once more through it and have revealed some of the emerald paths that were previously subsumed by the Shadow. The Church of Akadi reaffirms its vow to bring back the lands and free those undead still trapped there.

    What had started out as a desire to bring fresh winds back to Tilverton has grown into a mission of mercy on behalf of Akadi; With every move we make, we step closer to bringing the Azure promise back and freeing those souls and welcoming them to their gods as Cormyr reclaims what is rightfully its own.


    The Future of Tilverton


    My vision for Tilverton’s future is one of emerald fields and warm breezes, a place where people can grow and live in the grand opportunity that Akadi offers to anyone of any race or history. Our church is seeking to make it a place where the teachings of Oghma, Mystra and Gond can be incorporated to teach people a trade, to foster free thought and philosophy and to explore the depths of the humanoid experience.

    If we are successful, we will bring Akadi’s name and faith into the mainstream and our shared contribution to the tapestry of Cormyr will be made. Freeing souls, freeing minds, and inspiring people to ‘what if’ a little more.

    My arrival here was an unremarkable occurrence, but I hope it will be my legacy. After the Shade, we could all use a breath of fresh air.

    Mistral Ophirae Miavyre
    High Priestess of Akadi


  • Admin [DM]

    High Priestess,

    Yet another fine sample for the collection of tomes, for this excellent piece of work the library grants you 3000 gold.

    Signed,
    Head Librarian Sigermane



  • @puffy


    Head Librarian,

    I do not wish to sound ungrateful, but I’m curious what made you value this tome so much lower than my previous submissions.

    I look forward to hearing back so I can address the issue in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Mistral Ophirae Miavyre


  • Admin [DM]

    High Priestess,

    The UAMC has chosen to lower the funds granted to the library, now when most tomes desired from the public has been written. Thus the rewards and donations have been lowered so that authors and scholars can still receive rewards for their hard work.

    Signed,
    Head Librarian Sigermane



  • @puffy

    Head Librarian,

    It hurts to read these words as there are many tales that will be lost to the sands of time as a result of the UAMC's decision; the time investment in research, interviews and seeking clues to penning these texts has been offset and made bearable (even fun!) because there was an unspoken understanding that it would have a return that allowed the author to pursue their own schemes with the coin granted for a good text.

    With this choice, the UAMC is tacitly supporting adventurers putting the nose to the grind stone and simply killing things for local employers instead of going out of their way to seek knowledge and spread it.

    What value, then, does the written word truly play in Arabel?

    Sincerely,
    Ophirae Miavyre
    Mistral of Akadi


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